Green Bay has one identity in pop culture, being the smallest city an NFL team calls home. I guess it beats being known as the Toilet Paper Capital of the world, which is a tagline the city has received. I prefer Title Town, a title earned during Vince Lombardi’s pursuit and capture of five NFL championships in the 60’s.
However, in this city, it’s a little beleaguering thinking of all the commercial and governmental aspects that incorporate the Green Bay Packers. There’s a couple of streets labeled after past head coaches, an elementary school known as Lombardi, businesses with names like ‘titletown’ or ‘Packerland’ and Packer memorabilia everywhere during football season. Even the local Walmart sells cheese heads and Jerseys. I kid you not, in my fridge sits the remains of a six pack from Title Town brewery, an Irish Red named after Johnny ‘Blood’ McNally. Its actually really good.
That being said, as a child there were two things I did on Sundays, during the fall and early winter months. The first thing was go to Sunday school and Church. After that, I would sit down and watch the packers play. I remember hoping during that upcoming week the packers would get their crap together and, maybe, just maybe, eek out a win. Many times I was left with disappointment. The 80’s weren’t the best time to be a packer fan, but I was, and am, through and through.
So, a Green Bay Packers hall of fame visit is as natural as drinking water. In this day and age of hype and publicity, sometimes its hard to separate truth from fiction. Truth-the Green Bay Packers are a historic team, filled with traditions and grid iron legends. Its in the name of their Iconic stadium-Lambeau Field, named after the founder, player and coach Earl ‘Curly’ Lambeau, who guided his teams to an unrivaled six championships.
I walk up to the ticket counter, located inside the Stylishly uplifting expanse that is the atrium of Lambeau Field. I pay my fifteen dollars and make my way into the exhibits. As like many Museums I’ve visited, the first features are modest but interesting, getting you primed for the main event.
I find a wall, highlighting the typical work week of a Packer player, Monday through Sunday. Also, on an adjacent wall, I scope out equipment worn by players through the ages, from dog-eared leather helmets to a progression of footwear. Front and center, however, is the ‘state of the art’ equipment used by today’s players.
I turn a corner and find an Escalator, heading to the fun part of the Hall of Fame. On the second floor, starting on the left hand side of the large room, the story of football in Green Bay begins. It was born with the first organized game, played in 1895 in Hagemiester Park.
It doesn’t take long to discover Green Bay’s first winning team, coinciding with a dark time in American history. The 1929 team is commemorated in a small case, as more exhibits run along the walls showing the early championships of Lambeau’s era, most captured during the Great Depression. Here I find some very cool artifacts, like Game worn jerseys of players whose busts reside in Canton.
Among the placards and artifacts, I find an Ironic bit of history. In the first forty-two years of existence, Green Bay played one home game in town during December . For those who don’t know, the Packers have a great record in Lambeau Field during the month of December.
Moving from the Lambeau era, my envious eyes feast on the most notable portion of Green Bay’s legendary history. It’s the Lombardi era and it features the Packers’ five championships won by the coach and GM, plus the loss in Lombardi’s first championship game. I am envious because this was my grandfather’s and father’s Packers, winning in an era where television broadcasts had just begun bringing people football.
There’s plenty of hardware and stories of the, almost mythical, teams Lombardi coached. My favorite collection is Bart Starr’s donations, including his leauge MVP trophy. The fact that he has donated so many personal awards is telling of the man, which is why an autographed photo, made out to me from the legend, resides in my writing room.
Tributes to Lombardi and the Ice Bowl, the Iconic NFL championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, are also in this section.
Little time is spent with the 70’s and 80’s. As a matter of fact, two decades of Packer futility is commemorated in one case. Bart Starr’s contribution to the Packers as head coach is recognized here. I didn’t realize it was 9 years of his life.
Two large cases pay homage to the two Super Bowl victories I was privileged to witness, in 1996 and 2010.
At the very end of the exhibit area, a timeline of the many venues the packers have called home are highlighted. Yes, there were plenty before historic Lambeau Field. From minor league baseball stadiums and horse tracks to old City Stadium, I learn that some stadiums held as few as 5,000 people. Of course the population of Green Bay was around 40,000 people at the time.
I head down stairs and find bronze footballs, commemorating each Packers Hall of Fame inductee. I enjoy this as names I remember from my childhood bring a smile. Players like Johnny Gray and Gary Ellis are probably long forgotten by football fans outside of Green Bay. Here, my memories are jostled and I remember plays that thrilled me in my younger years. Past that, cases stand in tribute to the twenty four packer legends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
At the very end of the tour, I am enveloped in a circular room full of championship trophies.
Like any museum, the hall tells the story of an important part of the community, being that the Packers are community owned. This is a simple trek through the ages that mainly focuses on the great years of the franchise. It also brings to light many favorite players that tons of die hard fans appreciated.
Adults $15, Seniors $12, Military $12, Youth (12-17) and students $12, children (6-11) $9 Children 5 and under free
you can also purchase your museum ticket with a tour of the stadium for a discount.